Russia urges civilians to evacuate annexed Kherson as Ukrainian forces advance

Russia has told residents of illegally annexed Kherson to evacuate if Ukrainian troops approach, raising fears the region could become the new front line in Vladimir Putin’s war.

Moscow-installed Governor Vladimir Saldo urged Kherson’s civilians to take their children with them and flee in a video statement on Telegram on Thursday.

“Every day the cities of the Kherson region are subject to rocket attacks,” Mr Saldo said.

“Therefore, the leadership of the Kherson administration decided to give Kherson families the opportunity to travel to other regions of the Russian Federation for rest and study.”

Mr Saldo said: “We have suggested to all residents of the Kherson region to protect themselves from the consequences of rocket attacks if they wish,” and advised people to “go with their children”.

Kherson is one of four partially occupied Ukrainian provinces that Mr Putin illegally annexed this month, and arguably the most important as it controls both the only land route to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia captured in 2014, and the mouth of the Dnipro, the vast river , which is that bisects Ukraine.

But just moments after the governor’s message, his deputy downplayed the call, insisting there was no evacuation plan.

“There is and cannot be any evacuation in the Kherson region,” Kirill Stremousov said, adding: “No one is planning to withdraw Russian troops from the Kherson region.”

Last week, the Ukrainian army launched a broad counteroffensive in the south, capturing a number of villages on the west bank of the Dnieper and advancing on the city of Kherson.

Meanwhile, Mykolayiv, the closest major Ukrainian city to Kherson, came under shelling Thursday, hitting several civilian facilities, local officials said.

Regional Governor Vitaly Kim said the top two floors of a five-story apartment building had been destroyed and the rest lay under rubble, with residents as young as 11 buried under it for up to six hours.

In the east, three Russian missiles exploded Thursday morning near the central market in Kupyansk, a major rail junction town that Ukrainian forces recaptured during their major advance there in September.

The missiles destroyed businesses and covered the surrounding streets with broken glass, debris and bent metal.

Dmytro, who declined to give his last name, trudged up the debris-strewn steps of his shoe store to salvage as much undamaged inventory as possible from the devastated interior.

“Who knows? They think it’s a military target,” he said sarcastically when asked why he thought the Russians hit the Kupyansk trading center.

The faltering Russian offensive was not taken lightly by Putin, who only grew more sinister in his threats with each blow against Moscow.

This week, the Russian president launched the largest airstrikes since the war began, firing more than 100 cruise missiles mostly at power and heat infrastructure, with some landing in parks, busy roads and tourist spots. Putin said the strikes were in retaliation for an explosion that damaged Russia’s bridge to Crimea.

On Thursday NATO At a meeting of the allies in Brussels, plans were unveiled to also strengthen Europe’s air defenses along with Patriot and other missile systems.

“We live in threatening, dangerous times,” said Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht at a signing ceremony at which Germany and more than a dozen European NATO members committed themselves to the joint procurement of weapons for a “European heavenly shield”. Russia urges civilians to evacuate annexed Kherson as Ukrainian forces advance

Fry Electronics Team

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